Picture of Szabolcs Horvát
Two small questions about some sentences
by Szabolcs Horvát - Thursday, 16 July 2009, 12:32 PM
  Anki is a flashcard program that I sometimes use while studying Greek. Recently they included the possibility to download card decks shared by other users. I started using one titled Modern Greek Sentences, which challenges us to translate simple sentences from English to Greek. Unfortunately it is not possible to verify the source of these cards or to contact their authors so I am asking here:

One card has

I watch some TV. ---> Βλέπω λίγο τηλεόραση.

Why is it λίγο and not λίγη? Probably the answer is again that λίγο is an adverb here, modifying βλέπω, though this seems a bit strange to me. Can λίγο, as an adverb, be used with most verbs? For example, can one say "Πηγαίνω περίπατο λίγο." ?

Another card has

I take the children to school. ---> Παίνω τα παιδιά στο σχολείο.

Is παίνω a misspelling of παίρνω here? (Can παίρνω be used in the sense of taking someone somewhere (not simply taking an object)?)

Sorry for the very basic questions ... since I am studying on my own, I have no other way to get some reassurance than posting here.
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Greg Brush - Thursday, 16 July 2009, 01:20 PM
  1.) The function of λίγο here is to modify the verb βλέπω in the manner of watching (I watch a little) and is thus an adverb, not an adjective modifying the noun τηλεόραση. (λίγη τηλεόραση would mean a small amount of the television set, i.e., a few pieces or chunks of the TV set.)

2.) "παίνω" is an obvious typo -- the spelling should be παίρνω.
Yes, παίρνω can refer to anything, i.e., to people as well as things, as for example in L21 (where παίρνω is formally introduced) where Andreas says:
Παίρνω τον αδερφό μου από το χέρι και τον παίρνω στο σχολείο.
and where Ellie says:
Την [την γιαγιά] παίρνω το πρωί στο μαγαζί με το αυτοκίνητο.
Παίρνω τα παιδιά στο σχολείο....

Hope this helps,
Greg Brush
Picture of Szabolcs Horvát
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Szabolcs Horvát - Thursday, 16 July 2009, 02:51 PM
  Thanks for the replies Greg! I should pay more attention ... For some reason I associated παίρνω with only certain meanings of the English 'take'. (My mother tongue has different words for the different meanings of 'take'.)

Was the other example Ι gave with λίγο correct, "Πηγαίνω περίπατο λίγο." ? Or is the word order wrong, and it should be "Πηγαίνω λίγο περίπατο."? Or perhaps neither of the two is right?
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Greg Brush - Friday, 17 July 2009, 03:33 AM
  The phrase would be πηγαίνω λίγο περίπατο, where λίγο here is actually an accusative adjective modifying the direct object περίπατο (from nominative λίγος περίπατος -- a little walk, i.e., a small amount of a walk).

By the way, in case you haven't already noticed from the Vocabulary definitions, παίρνω can mean either "I take" or "I receive", depending on context. See "Γράφω γράμματα στον φίλο μου και παίρνω γράμματα από τον φίλο μου" In Discussion Forum 21 for a little more about these two meanings of παίρνω.

Greg Brush
Picture of Szabolcs Horvát
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Szabolcs Horvát - Friday, 17 July 2009, 05:28 AM
  Thank you again for the reply, and for the great help you are providing us in this forum!

I have another question about a sentence, coming from the same source. The sentence is

2001 wasn't a good year. --> Το 2001 δεν ήταν καλή χρονιά.

This time I tried to be a better student, and did my research: Year (ο χρόνος, τα χρόνια) was introduced in lesson 28 as a special word which behaves as masculine in the singular and neuter in the plural. So I would expect

Το 2001 δεν ήταν καλός χρόνος.

In the plural I would expect καλά χρόνια. Instead, the sentence has καλή χρονιά. Why?

[15 minutes later...] Well, now that I've written this post, it turns out that I didn't do a good enough research after all ... I see in the dictionary that there is a feminine noun η χρονιά. First I missed that the stress is now on the final vowel.

So now my question is: is there a difference in meaning between ο χρόνος and η χρονιά (and does the latter one have any irregularities like χρόνος)?

And why does the same dictionary have χρόνων as the genitive plural of ο χρόνος when LGO has χρονών, with the stress on the last syllable (in lessons 19 and 43)?

Wow! The words for year have certainly caused a lot of confusion in my head!
Picture of Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Friday, 17 July 2009, 06:12 AM
  I'll try to help here.

About the first question: as it happens, Modern Greek has three different words for "year", each with a slightly different meaning.
  • The masculine word ο χρόνος can mean "year", "time" and "(grammatical) tense". In the sense of "year", it has an irregular neutral plural: τα χρόνια. In the sense of "grammatical tense", its plural is regular: οι χρόνοι. In the (relatively rarely used) sense of "time", it just is never used in the plural. It's also the main word for "years of age", "years old", used in the genitive to indicate or ask for the age of someone or something.
  • The feminine word η χρονιά only means "year", and seems never to be used to mean "years of age". It's a regular feminine word. It seems to be used mostly in the expression καλή χρονιά!: "Happy New Year!".
  • The neuter word το έτος (plural τα έτη) can mean both "year" and "years of age", "years old". It's a relatively common alternative to χρόνος when asking or indicating age: πόσων χρονών είσαι; or πόσων ετών είσαι;, or just to mean "year".
So the three words are relatively synonymous to each other in that they all mean "year", but they are all three used in slightly different ways and in slightly different contexts, with "χρονιά" being the most restricted in its use.

As for your other question, a quick Google check showed me that χρονών and χρόνων seem to enjoy a relatively equal use (searching for χρονών gave me 3,740,000 results, χρόνων 3,850,000). The thing is, you have to remember that Modern Greek is a relatively fluid language, still evolving quite quickly, and far less fixed in its details than other languages. Alternate spellings, conjugation and declension forms abound. In this case, there is a competition between the traditional form (χρονών, with the accent on the last syllable because in Ancient Greek its vowel was long) and a pressure to regularise things (exceptions tend to be lost over time, it's a normal phenomenon in language change. In this case, the pressure is to fix the stress in place, since the vowel length distinction has been lost and thus there is no reason to move the stress of χρόνος in the genitive plural). The fact that both forms are equally in use just means that we're in the middle of this competition. Whether the traditional form or the innovative form will win out is unknown (although generally innovations tend to take over in the long run). Who knows, they may even stay as accepted alternatives for generations!

Hopefully the explanation was clear. Modern Greek is a very free language, with lots of variations, alternatives and synonyms, so it can indeed be quite confusing for people. Just try to hang in there, the ride is fun! wink

And thanks for letting me discover a great online dictionary.
Picture of Szabolcs Horvát
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Szabolcs Horvát - Friday, 17 July 2009, 07:29 AM
  Thanks for the detailed reply, Christophe. Now it is a lot more clear.

I don't mind about Greek having some idiosyncrasies smile It's not just Greek. No language is fixed in its details. For example, my mother tongue has two words for red, which mean exactly the same, but with some nouns usually one is used, while with others nouns, the other one. There's no "logical" explanation for the difference between them. Their usage just has to be learned.
Picture of Guest User
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Guest User - Friday, 17 July 2009, 12:28 PM
  Here are the cases I've drawn up for the three words Christophe mentioned.

ο χρόνος, το(ν) χρόνο, του χρόνου
τα χρόνια, τα
χρόνια, των χρονών/χρόνων

η χρονιά, τη(ν) χρονιά, της χρονιάς/χρόνιας/χρονίας
οι χρονιές/χρόνιες, τις χρονιές/χρόνιες, των χρόνιων/χρονίων

το έτος, το έτος, του έτου
τα έτη, τα έτη, των ετών

Picture of Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Tuesday, 21 July 2009, 06:55 AM
  Oh, I'm very well aware that all languages have their idiosyncrasies. It's just that Greek feels more fluid than most other languages I know. It's the only language I know that allow a full category of verbs to have two (admittedly not completely separate) sets of endings! (I'm talking naturally about αγαπώ/αγαπάω)

But idiosyncrasies exist indeed in all languages. You mentioned the colour red in your mother tongue (I assume it's Hungarian, given the shape of your name). Well, let me tell you that my own mother tongue (French) does something very peculiar with colours as well. We have one word for "black" ("noir"), used for anything and everything, except human hair. For black human hair, we use another word ("brun"). But that word in turn means something else when referring to human skin or animal hair! (it then means "brown") And that word can't be used for other things ("brown" for other things is "marron"). And what about brown human hair? That would be "châtain" (which happens to be identical both in meaning, use and etymology to the Greek word καστανός!).

So, indeed, idiosyncrasies are a staple of language, any of them. I just feel that Modern Greek tends to revel in those idiosyncrasies rather than limit their appearance big grin.
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Greg Brush - Friday, 17 July 2009, 01:06 PM
  A few additional comments:

1.) For a little more about η χρονιά see my reply "Re: ο χρόνος -- τα χρόνια -- "καλή χρόνια"" in Discussion Forum 28.

2.) As Christophe points out, χρόνων is the contemporary form with fixed stress in the genitive plural, while χρονών is the older form with end stress in the genitive plural. Thus χρονών is one more example of a conservative, educated form which the LGO Lessons use, but which also has a contemporary, more colloquially used alternate, in this instance χρόνων.

3.) Neuter nouns in -ος (of which το έτος is one) will be formally presented in Lesson 79.

Greg Brush
Picture of Carrie Hull
Re: Two small questions about some sentences
by Carrie Hull - Saturday, 24 April 2010, 10:37 PM
  Could I get another clarification on λίγο as an adjective or an adverb? What about if the sentence is "Θέλω λίγο τυρί." Is it true that in this case "λίγο" is ambiguous, because it could modify "Θέλω" and mean "I want a little," or it could modify "τυρί" and mean "a small amount of cheese"? Thank you.